PC10S A detailed guide to Pension Credit for advisers and others (April 2015)

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1 PC10S A detailed guide to Pension Credit for advisers and others (April 2015) Contents ABOUT PENSION CREDIT... 7 WHAT IS PENSION CREDIT?... 7 Guarantee Credit... 7 Savings Credit... 7 Changes to Savings Credit... 7 Who is eligible for Pension Credit?... 8 PENSION CREDIT QUALIFYING AGE... 8 HOW PENSION CREDIT IS WORKED OUT... 9 GUARANTEE CREDIT... 9 OVERVIEW OF HOW GUARANTEE CREDIT IS CALCULATED The appropriate amount The standard amount The extra amount for carers The extra amount for severe disability The extra amount for housing costs The transitional extra amount What about children? SAVINGS CREDIT Important changes from 6 April Savings Credit calculation CALCULATING PENSION CREDIT: SOME EXAMPLES PENSIONS FLEXIBILITIES HOW PENSION CREDIT IS AFFECTED Pot left untouched Regular drawdown Lump sum drawdown Re-valuing the pension pot Withdrawing the whole pot at once Annuity purchased Spends all or part of the pot INCOME RULES Rules for couples HOW WE WORK OUT INCOME FOR PENSION CREDIT If your customer is a self-assessment taxpayer What counts as income for Guarantee Credit? What doesn t count as income Weekly calculations Notional income WORKING OUT INCOME FOR SAVINGS CREDIT HOW WE WORK OUT EARNINGS People who work for an employer People who are self-employed Childminders

2 INCOME DISREGARDS INCOME THAT IS WHOLLY DISREGARDED INCOME THAT IS PARTIALLY DISREGARDED Trust funds Income from tenants and lodgers Home income plans EARNING DISREGARDS Normal disregards Higher disregards Special rules EARNINGS FROM BEFORE AN APPLICATION HOW WE WORK OUT CAPITAL FOR PENSION CREDIT CALCULATIONS FOR COUPLES DISREGARDED CAPITAL DEEMED INCOME NOTIONAL CAPITAL Reduction over time CAPITAL DISREGARDS PERSONAL POSSESSIONS HOUSES AND LAND CERTAIN TYPES OF EARMARKED CAPITAL LIFE INSURANCE POLICIES FUNERAL PLANS FAR EASTERN PRISONERS OF WAR PAYMENT SECOND WORLD WAR COMPENSATION PAYMENTS LUMP-SUM PERSONAL INJURY (INCLUDING VACCINE DAMAGE) PAYMENTS LUMP-SUM PAYMENTS FROM CERTAIN SPECIAL TRUSTS AND MFET LIMITED LUMP SUM EX GRATIA PAYMENTS MADE TO EQUITABLE LIFE PRE SEPTEMBER 1992 WITH- PROFITS ANNUITY POLICYHOLDERS ARREARS AND LATE PAYMENT OF BENEFITS OFFICIAL ERROR ARREARS & COMPENSATION LUMP-SUMS FROM DEFERRING STATE PENSIONS HEALTH IN PREGNANCY GRANTS PAYMENTS FROM LOCAL AUTHORITIES UNDER THE SUPPORTING PEOPLE SCHEME MONEY IN A TRUST BUSINESS ASSETS HOW WE WORK OUT THE VALUE OF CAPITAL ASSETS OVERSEAS ASSETS JOINTLY-OWNED PROPERTY DEEMED INCOME FROM CAPITAL HOW WE WORK OUT HOUSING COSTS WHO CAN GET HELP WITH HOUSING COSTS? NON-DEPENDANTS AT HOME TEMPORARY ABSENCE FROM HOME MORE THAN ONE HOME MORTGAGES TAKEN OUT TO PURCHASE THE HOME AND CERTAIN HOME IMPROVEMENT LOANS Mortgage interest RESTRICTIONS

3 100,000 capital limit and exceptions Loans taken out while in receipt of Pension Credit High housing costs STANDARD RATE OF INTEREST INTEREST ON LOANS FOR REPAIRS AND IMPROVEMENTS HIRE PURCHASE INTEREST OTHER HOUSING COSTS GROUND RENT SERVICE CHARGES CO-OWNERSHIP AND CROWN TENANCY CHARGES CHARGES FOR TENTS AND SITE RENTS RENTCHARGE PEOPLE WHO LIVE WITH YOUR CUSTOMER NON-DEPENDANTS Non-dependant deductions from Pension Credit SPECIAL HOUSING SITUATIONS Absence from home Rent in advance More than one home Homes and businesses APPLYING FOR PENSION CREDIT HOW TO APPLY WHAT HAPPENS DURING THE CALL? WHEN TO APPLY DEALING WITH APPLICATIONS WHAT HAPPENS AFTER AN APPLICATION IS MADE? REQUESTS FOR MORE INFORMATION WHO DECIDES WHO GETS PENSION CREDIT? HOW ARE CUSTOMERS TOLD? APPEALS WHAT TO DO IF YOUR CUSTOMER THINKS A DECISION IS WRONG HOW TO APPEAL DEADLINES FOR MAKING AN APPEAL POSSIBLE OUTCOMES HOW IS PENSION CREDIT PAID? DIRECT PAYMENT Opening an account GETTING SOMEONE ELSE TO COLLECT PAYMENTS Account payments Post Office card account payments APPOINTING SOMEONE TO ACT ON A CUSTOMER S BEHALF WHEN PENSION CREDIT IS PAID FROM Paydays Small amounts Payment with other social security benefits DEDUCTIONS AND PAYMENTS TO THIRD PARTIES MORTGAGE INTEREST PAYMENTS OVERPAYMENTS

4 MISREPRESENTATION AND FALSE DISCLOSURE LATE CHANGES TEMPORARY CHANGES LATE PAYMENT OF OTHER INCOME LATE PAYMENT OF OTHER BENEFITS RECOVERY OF OVERPAYMENT OF OTHER BENEFITS WHAT IF OVERPAYMENTS ARE DISPUTED? HOW ARE OVERPAYMENTS RECOVERED? Repayment by instalments Repayment by partner Repayment of other benefits WHAT HAPPENS IF A CUSTOMER S CIRCUMSTANCES CHANGE EFFECTS ON AN ASSESSED INCOME PERIOD CHANGES TO TELL US ABOUT Changes in earnings Changes in income Changes to capital Changes at home Going into, or coming out of, hospital Leaving Great Britain Family changes If someone dies ASSESSED INCOME PERIOD HOW LONG IS THE ASSESSED INCOME PERIOD? CHANGES TO ASSESSED INCOME PERIODS FROM 6 APRIL WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOUR CUSTOMER THINKS A DECISION IS WRONG? CHANGES TO PENSIONS AND ANNUITY INCOME DURING AN ASSESSED INCOME PERIOD CHANGES TO CAPITAL DURING AN ASSESSED INCOME PERIOD THE END OF AN ASSESSED INCOME PERIOD When the assessed income period ends early When the period ends Pension Credit reduces Pension Credit increases Another assessed income period PEOPLE WHO HAVE COME TO GREAT BRITAIN FROM ABROAD GENERAL RULES SPECIAL RULES PEOPLE WHO COME TO GB TEMPORARILY HABITUAL RESIDENCE TEST SPONSORED IMMIGRANTS PEOPLE WHO HAVE LIMITED LEAVE TO REMAIN IN THE UK PEOPLE WHO LEAVE GREAT BRITAIN TEMPORARILY MEDICAL TREATMENT OTHER REASONS EXPENSES PAYMENT WHEN PEOPLE NEED TO RE-APPLY NORTHERN IRELAND IF YOUR CUSTOMER LEAVES GREAT BRITAIN BUT THEIR PARTNER STAYS

5 IF YOUR CUSTOMER S PARTNER LEAVES GREAT BRITAIN BUT YOUR CUSTOMER STAYS PEOPLE IN HOSPITAL HOW GOING INTO HOSPITAL AFFECTS PENSION CREDIT SINGLE PEOPLE COUPLES ONE PARTNER IN HOSPITAL BOTH PARTNERS IN HOSPITAL HOUSING COSTS WHILE IN HOSPITAL PEOPLE LIVING IN CARE HOMES WHAT WE MEAN BY CARE HOME HOW LIVING IN A CARE HOME AFFECTS PENSION CREDIT EXTRA AMOUNT FOR SEVERE DISABILITY MOVING INTO A CARE HOME PEOPLE IN RELIGIOUS ORDERS PEOPLE IN PRISON WHAT WE MEAN BY PRISONER PRISONERS WITH PARTNERS PRISONERS ON REMAND PRISONERS ON LEAVE PRISONERS IN MENTAL HOSPITALS PEOPLE WHO ARE HOMELESS PEOPLE LIVING TOGETHER AS IF THEY ARE MARRIED WHAT WE MEAN BY LIVING TOGETHER AS IF MARRIED HOW WE DECIDE WHETHER PEOPLE ARE LIVING AS IF MARRIED PEOPLE LIVING APART FROM THEIR PARTNER PEOPLE IN POLYGAMOUS MARRIAGES LINKED BENEFITS AND OTHER FINANCIAL HELP HOUSING BENEFIT Help for people able to get Pension Credit Help for people not able to get Pension Credit COUNCIL TAX REDUCTION THE SOCIAL FUND COLD WEATHER PAYMENTS FUNERAL PAYMENTS BUDGETING LOANS SURE START MATERNITY GRANTS SHORT TERM BENEFIT ADVANCES What happens after payment OTHER SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS ATTENDANCE ALLOWANCE DISABILITY LIVING ALLOWANCE PERSONAL INDEPENDENCE PAYMENT (PIP) ARMED FORCES INDEPENDENCE PAYMENT (AFIP) CARER S ALLOWANCE (CA) INCAPACITY BENEFIT (IB) EMPLOYMENT AND SUPPORT ALLOWANCE JOBSEEKER S ALLOWANCE (JSA)

6 WINTER FUEL PAYMENTS & WARM HOME DISCOUNT SCHEME UNIVERSAL CREDIT OTHER TYPES OF FINANCIAL HELP FOR PEOPLE ON LOW INCOMES Help with health costs Help for people working Help for people who care for children Child Tax Credit Healthy Start vouchers and vitamins Fruit and veg fresh or frozen Cow s milk Infant formula milk Child maintenance FURTHER INFORMATION PENSION CREDIT HELPLINE: LEGISLATION REFERENCES

7 About Pension Credit What is Pension Credit? Pension Credit is a tax-free income-related benefit for those who have reached the minimum qualifying age and live in Great Britain (GB). Pension Credit is paid for out of taxation. Your customer does not need to have paid National Insurance contributions to be eligible. The Pension Credit qualifying age is gradually going up to 66 in line with the increase in the State Pension age for women to 65 by November 2018 and the further increase to 66 for men and women between December 2018 and October There are two parts to Pension Credit: Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit. Guarantee Credit Guarantee Credit provides financial help for people who have reached the minimum qualifying age and whose income is below a certain amount. The amount that applies to your customer depends on their circumstances and is called their appropriate amount. (This is called the appropriate minimum guarantee in the legislation.) How much Guarantee Credit they may get will depend on the money they have, such as pensions and savings. Guarantee Credit is the difference between the money your customer already has coming in and their appropriate amount. Savings Credit Savings Credit is an extra amount for people aged 65 or over who have made some provision for their retirement (such as savings or a second pension) which brings their income above a level set by Parliament, called the Savings Credit starting point. (This is called the Savings Credit threshold in the legislation.) Customers can get Savings Credit with or without Guarantee Credit. They may still get Savings Credit even if their income is above their appropriate amount. Changes to Savings Credit As part of the Pensions Act 2014, the savings credit element of Pension Credit will close to people who reach State Pension age on or after 6 April People who are already getting their State Pension, or who will reach State Pension age before the new State Pension is introduced on 6 April 2016, will continue to have access to savings credit in line with the present rules. However if they are a member of a couple and the other one reaches State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016, they will not have access to savings credit unless they have already been awarded it before this date and have remained continuously entitled to it since then. 7

8 Who is eligible for Pension Credit? There are two main rules about who can get Pension Credit. These are about age and residency. Age: Your customer can only get Pension Credit if they have reached the qualifying age. If they have not reached the minimum qualifying age but their partner has, the partner can apply for Pension Credit. You can find out how we define a couple - Couples Residency: Your customer may only get Pension Credit if they live in GB (England, Scotland and Wales) and they: have the right to reside, and are habitually resident, in the United Kingdom (UK), the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or the Republic of Ireland, (this is known as the common travel area) The habitual residence and right to reside rules are explained in the Habitual residence test. If your customer has come to GB from abroad, they may be able to get Pension Credit, but this depends on their residence or immigration status and on their circumstances. In some cases, customers may be able to keep Pension Credit if they leave this country temporarily Pension Credit qualifying age The Pension Credit qualifying age is gradually going up to 65 by November 2018 in line with the State Pension increase for women. It will then increase in line with further increases in State Pension age so will rise to 66 by October 2020 and to 67 by To find out when your customer can get Pension Credit see the table below. Changes to the State Pension age will affect the Pension Credit qualifying age. Your customer's Pension Credit qualifying age if they were born on or after 6 October 1952, but before 6 April 1960 (Anyone born before 6 October 1952 has already reached the qualifying age) Date your customer was born Date your customer will reach the Pension Credit qualifying age 6 October 1952 to 5 November May November 1952 to 5 December July December 1952 to 5 January September January 1953 to 5 February November February 1953 to 5 March January

9 6 March 1953 to 5 April March April 1953 to 5 May July May 1953 to 5 June November June 1953 to 5 July March July 1953 to 5 August July August 1953 to 5 September November September 1953 to 5 October March October 1953 to 5 November July November 1953 to 5 December November December 1953 to 5 January March January 1954 to 5 February May February 1954 to 5 March July March 1954 to 5 April September April 1954 to 5 May November May 1954 to 5 June January June 1954 to 5 July March July 1954 to 5 August May August 1954 to 5 September July September 1954 to 5 October September October 1954 to 5 April th birthday How Pension Credit is worked out The amount your customer will get depends on: their weekly income and how much they have saved or invested (their capital), and if they have a partner, their partner s weekly income and their capital Income: If your customer or their partner has a pension of any kind, it will normally be taken into account. Certain other types of income are also taken into account, but some can be ignored. What counts as income for Guarantee Credit? explains these rules and how different types of income are treated. Capital: If your customer (or your customer and their partner if they are a couple) have savings and investments which, in total, come to 10,000 or less, we will ignore it.. If it comes to more than 10,000 it may affect how much Pension Credit your customer can get. [Reference 5b] Guarantee Credit Each part of Pension Credit Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit is worked out separately. Some people will get both, others just one. 9

10 This part of the guide explains how we work out the Guarantee Credit element. Here are some examples to show how Pension Credit works in different ways for different people. Guarantee Credit is the difference between your customer s appropriate amount and your customer s income, which may include an amount of deemed income from their capital (explanation of deemed income). Overview of how Guarantee Credit is calculated Calculating a customer s Guarantee Credit involves a number of steps: 1. Establish the customer s weekly income. 2. Establish the weekly (deemed) income from any capital over the 10,000 threshold. (Deemed income from capital) 3. Make allowance for any income or capital disregards. 4. Compare the net income to the 'appropriate amount' for the customer. For Guarantee Credit the payment represents the shortfall between the appropriate amount and the net income calculated for your customer. The sections that follow explain how Pension Credit is worked out. They explain how: your customer s income is calculated, including how earnings are calculated and income disregards are treated the capital element is calculated, including how capital disregards are treated we calculate the appropriate amount for your customer the individual elements Guarantee and Savings Credit - are arrived at The appropriate amount [Legislation 41] Your customer s appropriate amount [Reference 1] will be made up of: the standard amount [Reference 2] and may also include some or all of the following extra amounts [Reference 3]: o extra amount for severe disability o extra amount for carers o extra amount for housing costs (for example mortgage interest) to cover certain accommodation costs that are not met by Housing Benefit o transitional extra amount for some people who were getting Income Support or income-based Jobseeker s Allowance or income related Employment and Support Allowance before they started to get Pension Credit 10

11 The current rates for these amounts are given in the next section. The standard amount [Legislation 42] The standard amount is the minimum amount of money the Government has made available to support day-to-day living, including household costs such as water and fuel charges. There are two rates of standard amount: a week for single people a week for couples These rates, and those quoted in the sections that follow are the figures that apply from April Rates normally change each April and can be found in the Benefit and Pension rates leaflet. There is also information on the standard amount for people in polygamous marriages. [Legislation 44] The extra amount for carers Your customer may be able to get this extra amount of a week if: they (or their partner if they have one) are getting Carer s Allowance they (or their partner if they have one) has claimed Carer s Allowance and would be getting it if they did not already have another contributory benefit paying a higher amount (we call this underlying entitlement ) If each partner satisfies either one of these conditions, the extra amount is doubled. When Carer s Allowance stops or underlying entitlement ceases, the Pension Credit extra amount for carers is paid for a further eight weeks. (If however Carer s Allowance has already continued for eight weeks after the person being cared for has died, the extra amount for carers will stop immediately.) The extra amount for severe disability [Legislation 43] There are two rates for severe disability. If your customer is single they may get the lower rate of if: 11

12 they live alone (except in certain specific circumstances) [Reference 4]; and they get Attendance Allowance or the middle or highest rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance or either rate of the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment or Armed Forces Independence Payment, and no-one is paid Carer s Allowance for looking after them. If your customer has a partner they may get the higher rate of a week if: they both get Attendance Allowance or the middle or highest rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance or either rate of the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment or Armed Forces Independence Payment, and no-one else lives with them (except in certain specific circumstances) [Reference 4]; and no-one is paid Carer s Allowance for looking after either of them. If your customer has a partner they may get the lower rate of a week if no-one else lives with them (except in certain specific circumstances), [Reference 4], and either: they both get Attendance Allowance or the middle or highest rate of Disability Living Allowance or either rate of the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment or Armed Forces Independence Payment and someone gets Carer s Allowance for looking after one of them (but not both of them) one of them gets Attendance Allowance or the middle or highest rate of the care component of Disability Living Allowance or either rate of the daily living component of Personal Independence Payment or Armed Forces Independence Payment and the other is blind and no-one is paid Carer s Allowance for looking after either of them The extra amount for housing costs The extra amount for housing costs is for those costs not covered by the Housing Benefit scheme. Housing Benefit payments are from the local council to help towards rent or the cost of living in a hotel, guest house, hostel or somewhere similar. The extra amount for housing costs does not cover Council Tax liabilities. Fees from the local council associated with Council Tax reduction payments are not classed as Pension Credit housing costs. The housing costs that can be covered by extra amounts are: mortgage interest payments on loans taken out to buy their property interest on loans for specific repairs and improvements on their home interest payments when a home is being bought by hire purchase ground rents relating to a long tenancy some service charges co-ownership and Crown tenancy charges charges for tents and site rents 12

13 rentcharge payments Other costs such as water charges, some repairs and insurance costs, cesspit and septic tank emptying are treated as covered by the standard amount. In Scotland the rent for a croft is covered by the Housing Benefit scheme. The transitional extra amount [Legislation 45] Your customer s appropriate amount may include a transitional extra amount to make sure they do not lose money as a result of rule changes, if: they were getting Income Support [Reference 5], income-based Jobseeker s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance immediately before they started to get Pension Credit and they were getting some form of transitional protection because of a previous change in the rules. The transitional extra amount is the difference (if any) between: the final Income Support, income-based Jobseeker s Allowance or incomerelated Employment and Support Allowance applicable amount (the amount before income is deducted), less any amounts which were included in your customer s applicable amount for children, plus any transitional additions, and the Pension Credit standard amount, plus any extra amounts for severe disability, carers or housing costs The transitional extra amount will go down when other parts of your customer s appropriate amount increase or if they start to get another extra amount. If your customer stops getting Pension Credit for less than eight weeks and had been getting a transitional extra amount immediately before this, it may be included in their appropriate amount when they re-apply. What about children? Pension Credit does not include any money for children. If your customer has a dependent child living with them, please see Help for people who care for children for other help they may be able to get. 13

14 Savings Credit [Legislation 60] Savings Credit is extra money for people aged 65 or over or whose partner is 65 or over whose qualifying income is above the Savings Credit starting point. This is called the Savings Credit threshold in the legislation. Important changes from 6 April 2016 As part of the Pensions Act 2014, the Savings Credit element of Pension Credit will close for people reaching State Pension age on or after 6 April This will include those people reaching State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016 with a partner who has reached State Pension age before this date. Protection will be given to couples in this position who have already been awarded Savings Credit for the period immediately before and continuing beyond 6 April The conditions that will need to be satisfied for a couple in this position to be entitled to Savings Credit from 6 April 2016 are that one member must: be entitled to Savings Credit immediately before 6 April 2016 and be entitled to Savings Credit at all times since the beginning of 6 April The Savings Credit starting point is: for a single person for a couple There is a maximum amount of Savings Credit available. This is: for a single person for a couple The maximum amount is 60% of the difference between the standard amount ( for a single person and for a couple) and the Savings Credit starting point. These rates, and those quoted in the sections that follow are the figures that apply from April Rates can be found in the Benefit and Pension rates leaflet. Savings Credit calculation If your customer s Savings Credit qualifying income is the same as, or below, the Savings Credit starting point they cannot get Savings Credit. 14

15 If their total income is above their appropriate amount this will reduce the amount of Savings Credit payable. Savings Credit is worked out as follows. Amount A First, work out Amount A. This is 60% of the difference between your customer s qualifying income and the Savings Credit starting point. The maximum allowable for Amount A is for a single person and for a couple. If your customer s qualifying income is the same as, or more than, the standard minimum guarantee, the maximum Amount A applies. If your customer s qualifying income is less than, or the same as, their appropriate amount, their Savings Credit will be the same as Amount A. If your customer s qualifying income is more than their appropriate amount, work out Amount B. Amount B Amount B is 40% of the difference between their total income (which includes non qualifying income) and their appropriate amount. Take Amount B from Amount A. What is left is your customer s Savings Credit. If your customer seems to be eligible for Pension Credit then get them to call The Pension Service who will be able to help them claim in one phone call. Calculating Pension Credit: some examples These examples show how Pension Credit is worked out. The rates used in these examples are: Standard amount: single person: couple: Savings Credit starting point: single person: couple: Savings Credit maximum: 15

16 single person: couple: These are the figures that apply from April The rates normally change each April and can be found in the Benefits and Pension rates leaflet. The Savings Credit maximum is 60% of the difference between the standard amount ( for a single person and for a couple) and the Savings Credit starting point. Example 1 Andrew is 63. He gets per week occupational pension. His appropriate amount is simply the standard amount as he is not entitled to any extra amounts. Andrew s appropriate amount is His income is 46.90, so he is entitled to Guarantee Credit of a week. He is not entitled to Savings Credit because he is under 65. Andrew s Pension Credit is Example 2 Joyce is 65. She lives alone. Her State Pension is She also gets Attendance Allowance of and has savings of 8,000. Joyce s appropriate amount is which includes the extra amount of for severe disability. Her Attendance Allowance does not count as income and her savings are less than 10,000 [Reference 5a]. Her only income to be deducted from Pension Credit is State Pension. She is entitled to Guarantee Credit of a week. In this case Joyce s only qualifying income is her State Pension of As this is below the Savings Credit threshold of , she is not entitled to Savings Credit. Joyce s total Pension Credit is Example 3 Cathy is 72. She is single. Her State Pension is and she has 11,500 in a building society account. She owns her own flat (no mortgage) and pays ground rent of 850 a year ( a week). Cathy s appropriate amount is , which includes an extra amount for housing costs of Her income is (including 3 deemed income from capital), so she is entitled to Guarantee Credit of a week. All Cathy s income is qualifying income, and is more than the standard amount. Amount A is therefore (the maximum amount for a single person). As Cathy s income is less than her appropriate amount she is entitled to Savings Credit a week. 16

17 Cathy s total Pension Credit is which is made up of Guarantee Credit plus Savings Credit of Example 4 Jean and Howard are both 68. Jean s State Pension is and Howard s is They have savings of 35,000. Their 'appropriate amount' is simply the standard amount as they are not entitled to any extra amounts. Their appropriate amount is Their income is (including 50 deemed income from their capital). They are not entitled to Guarantee Credit. All their income is qualifying income and is more than the standard amount. Amount A is therefore (the maximum amount for a couple). Their income is 32.50more than their appropriate amount, so 40% of this ( 13) is taken away from Amount A, giving a Savings Credit of 4.43 a week. Jean and Howard s Pension Credit is Pensions Flexibilities Since 6 April 2015, people have been able to choose what they want to do with their defined contribution pension fund. This is where the contributor builds up a pot of money, known as a pension pot, rather than the right to a pension. From the age of 55, people can choose to: do nothing and leave the pot untouched; opt for a drawdown arrangement (where lump sums or regular amounts can be drawn down from the pension pot); draw out all of the funds in the pension pot; or purchase an annuity. How Pension Credit is affected Pot left untouched If your customer does not buy an annuity or other pension product with their pension pot and leaves it untouched, although the pot will be disregarded as capital, notional income will be taken into account as if an annuity had been purchased. See guidance on notional income. Regular drawdown If your customer choses to draw down regular amounts from their pension pot, it will be treated as retirement income. The amount taken into account will be the higher of the actual income or the notional income. 17

18 Lump sum drawdown If your customer withdraws ad-hoc lump sums from their pension pot, these will be taken into account as capital. If they make the customer s total capital exceed the 10,000 threshold, the customer will be treated as having deemed income from the capital. Re-valuing the pension pot When income or capital is withdrawn, the value of the pot will reduce. Therefore the notional income figure should be re-assessed: after every income drawdown, which exceeds the applicable notional income amount, from the pension pot; after every capital drawdown from the pension pot; or upon the claimant s request Withdrawing the whole pot at once If your customer withdraws the whole pension pot, it will be taken into account if it makes the customer s total capital exceed the 10,000 threshold. The customer will be treated as having deemed income from the capital. Annuity purchased If your customer purchases an annuity with the pension pot, the income from the annuity will be taken into account. Spends all or part of the pot If your customer spends, transfers or gives away any money taken from their pension pot, the usual rules on deprivation of capital will apply. Income Rules If your customer, or your customer s partner, satisfies the age and residency rules, and they are both under age 65, they can probably get Pension Credit if the money they have coming in is less than: a week if they are single a week if they have a partner If this applies they are likely to get Guarantee Credit and this will top up their weekly income to at least the levels shown above but also see how we work out capital for Pension Credit. 18

19 If your customer, or your customer s partner, is aged 65 or over and have income above the Savings Credit starting point such as from savings or a second pension, they may get extra Pension Credit in the form of Savings Credit. This element could be up to: a week for single people a week for couples This means that your customer may still get Pension Credit even if the money they or their partner have coming in is up to around: a week if they are single a week if they have a partner These are the figures that apply from April The rates normally change each April and can be found in the Benefit and Pension rates leaflet. Even if your customer has more money than this coming in each week, they may still get Pension Credit if: they or their partner (or both of them) have a severe disability they or their partner (or both of them) look after a severely disabled person they have certain housing costs, like mortgage interest payments The sections on extra amount for severe disability, the extra amount for carers and the extra amount for housing costs give more information about these special circumstances. Rules for couples [Legislation 3] Your customer s income and their partner s income are normally added together for Pension Credit purposes. Customers will be treated as a couple if they live with their husband, wife or civil partner or with someone as their husband, wife or civil partner. The other person is called their partner. There are guidelines for deciding whether two people are treated as a couple. In some cases, customers will be treated as a couple if they are temporarily separated from their partner. The guidance is explained in People living apart from their partner. If your customer has a partner and they are treated as a couple, they will have a joint appropriate amount and their income and capital will be added together when we work out their Pension Credit. 19

20 If both partners have reached the minimum qualifying age either of them can apply for Pension Credit. Only one partner can get Pension Credit at any one time. If they cannot agree which of them will apply, we can decide for them. To find out the age at which your customer could become entitled to Pension Credit, you can use the Pension Credit calculator. How we work out income for Pension Credit We use the income your customer already has to work out their Pension Credit. This section explains what counts as income and how it is calculated. We then add up your customer s capital and work out the (deemed) income they get from it. This is covered in detail in Deemed income. Broadly the rules for calculating income are the same for both Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit (Pension Credit). However, there are some types of income that are not counted as income for Savings Credit. Working out income for Savings Credit If your customer is a self-assessment taxpayer Pension Credit takes account of net income less any tax payable, including any tax on your State Pension. If your customer is a self assessment tax payer they need to tell us how much income tax they will pay or expect to pay for the current tax year. We need to know this to ensure your customer is getting the correct amount of Pension Credit. To find out more about Income Tax go to What counts as income for Guarantee Credit? [Legislation 1] Your customer s income is the money they (and their partner if they have one) have coming in from: State Pension and any foreign equivalents an occupational or private pension scheme The Pension Protection Fund or Financial Assistance Scheme a retirement annuity contract Civil List pensions Annuities 20

21 most social security benefits, including industrial injury benefits (see Income that is wholly disregarded for a list of the benefits that do not count as income) and similar foreign benefits War Disablement, War Widow s or War Widower s Pensions (or foreign equivalents) and Overage Infirm Allowances Guaranteed Income Payments (and payments to adults for whom a Child Payment had been paid) from the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme pensions paid by the German or Austrian governments to victims of Nazi persecution maintenance from a spouse or civil partner or former spouse or civil partner payments under the Workmen s Compensation Scheme earnings Working Tax Credit payments from lodgers, boarders or people renting part of their home (subtenants) regular payments from equity release schemes PPF periodic payments royalties or Public Lending Rights payments regular payments from trust funds deemed income from capital over 10,000 any of these types of income paid to a third party, such as a shop or supplier or relative, on your customer s behalf (this does not apply if they are bankrupt and payments from their occupational or personal pension have to be paid to their creditors or trustee in bankruptcy and they and their partner have no other income) [Reference 5c] Payments made instead of a particular type of income, such as compensation for the nonpayment of a particular benefit, are normally treated in the same way as payments of that income would be. Some of these types of income are either completely, or partially, ignored. These are called the disregards (see Income Disregards). What doesn t count as income We do not count as income, any money your customer has coming in that isn t on the list above, such as: regular payments from a charity or relative payments from local authority social services for personal care cash in lieu of concessionary coal money received on behalf of someone else (other than a partner) Weekly calculations [Legislation 2] 21

22 Income is worked out on a weekly basis. This means that if, for example, your customer gets paid monthly we calculate the annual total and then break this down into equal weekly amounts. Payments made on an occasional basis or from royalties or Public Lending Rights are treated as being for one year and then divided into weekly amounts. Your customer s total weekly amount, less any disregards, is then used to calculate their weekly Pension Credit. Notional income [Legislation 4] Notional income is income your customer does not actually get but is treated as getting. We may treat them as having notional income when they have: not claimed State Pension but are entitled to it not taken income available to them under a personal pension plan or a retirement annuity contract deferred payments from an occupational pension given up their rights to an income (from a trust fund for example) because they wanted to get Pension Credit, or more Pension Credit (this does not apply if your customer originally chose to take Extra State Pension but changed their mind and took a lump-sum instead) Important information if your customer or their partner puts off, or are already putting off, claiming State Pension If your customer or their partner has put off claiming State Pension while claiming Pension Credit, they will not build up extra State Pension or the lump sum for the days they are in receipt of Pension Credit from 6/4/2011. If your customer or their partner would like more information about how this change affects them see the Deferring your State Pension guide. This rule also applies to people who claim Income Support, Jobseeker s Allowance (Income Based), Employment and Support Allowance (Income Related) and Universal Credit while their partner puts off claiming their State Pension. Working out income for Savings Credit [Legislation 5] Qualifying income for Savings Credit is worked out in the same way as income for Guarantee Credit but does not include: Working Tax Credit Incapacity Benefit 22

23 Jobseeker s Allowance (contribution-based) Employment and Support Allowance (contributory) Severe Disablement Allowance Maternity Allowance Maintenance payments from a spouse or former spouse, or civil partner or former civil partner How we work out earnings People who work for an employer [Legislation 6] If your customer or their partner work for an employer, their gross earnings include all their wages and other payments from that employment, including bonuses, commissions, fees, retainers, sick pay and attendance allowances. We also count as earnings: the value of non-cash vouchers, such as tokens from supermarkets and chain stores, if National Insurance (NI) contributions have been paid on their value We do not count certain payments as earnings, for example: payments in kind, such as groceries We then deduct from your customer s gross earnings: any tax and NI contributions half of any contributions towards occupational or personal pension schemes What is left counts as earnings in our Pension Credit calculation. People who are self-employed [Legislation 7] If your customer or their partner is self-employed, their earnings are the net profit from that employment. This profit is normally calculated over the previous year but another period may be used if this will be more accurate. We deduct the following expenses from gross income to calculate net profit: 23

24 necessary expenses for the business, such as money spent on repairing equipment, interest on a business loan and excess VAT paid while your customer is getting Pension Credit. (This does not cover capital expenditure, depreciation, money for business expansion and business entertainment) repayment of capital on loans for replacement and repair of business equipment (this does not cover any other loans) Income Tax and National Insurance (Class 2 and Class 4) contributions, if payable (these are calculated on a notional basis) half of all premiums paid for a personal pension Childminders [Legislation 8] If your customer works as a child-minder in their own home, one-third of their gross income counts as earnings and two-thirds are treated as expenses and are ignored completely. We then deduct tax and national insurance contributions if applicable and apply the relevant earnings disregard to the one-third of earnings that are taken into account. Income disregards Disregards are the part of an income that is not counted when we work out Pension Credit. Disregards are calculated on a weekly basis. Income that is wholly disregarded [Legislation 9] The following are all wholly disregarded when working out your customer s income. Social Security benefits: Housing Benefit. Attendance Allowance (AA). Disability Living Allowance (DLA). Personal Independence Payment. Armed Forces Independence Payment. Christmas Bonus. Bereavement Payment. 24

25 These additions to industrial injury benefits: o Constant Attendance Allowance. o Mobility Supplement. o Exceptionally Severe Disablement Allowance. Any Social Fund payment (including Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments). Child Benefit. Guardian s Allowance. Child s Special Allowance. Dependency increases for anyone other than your customer or their partner. Foreign benefits similar to those listed above. Other types of income that are fully disregarded: [Legislation 10] War Widow s Supplementary Pension. These additions to War Disablement Pensions: o Constant Attendance Allowance. o Mobility Supplement. o Severe Disablement Occupational Allowance. o Dependency increases for anyone other than your customer or their partner. [Legislation 11] Income (other than social security or war pensions) received because your customer or their partner suffered a personal injury, including: o payments from annuities set up under a structured settlement o payments from annuities bought from a lump-sum compensation payment o money from trust funds which were set up with a lump-sum compensation payment [Legislation 11b] Payments received from a trust fund which was not set up with a lump-sum compensation payment are not counted as long as they are made entirely at the trustees discretion and are for items other than food, ordinary clothing or footwear, household fuel or housing costs. There is no limit to the amount that can be fully disregarded. Income that is partially disregarded [Legislation 12] Some types of income are partially disregarded when we work out Pension Credit. This means we ignore part of the income. 25

26 The following are partial disregards: The first 10 of income from: o War Widow s or Widower s Pension o War Disablement Pension o Guaranteed Income Payments from the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme o foreign payments equivalent to the three payment types listed above o pensions paid by the German or Austrian governments to victims of Nazi persecution o Widowed Parent s Allowance o Widowed Mother s Allowance Trust funds [Legislation 11b] o o The first 20 of income received from a trust fund if payments are made entirely at the trustees discretion and cannot be disregarded in full (see Income that is wholly disregarded). If your customer has income from a trust (which cannot be disregarded in full) and other income in the list above (for example, a War Pension), no more than 10 of the money from the trust can be disregarded. Income from tenants and lodgers [Legislation 13] o o o The first 20 a week of rent paid to your customer if they let part of their home to a tenant is ignored [Reference 5d]. If there are separate tenancy agreements with more than one tenant, the first 20 a week of the rent from each tenancy is ignored. The first 20 a week plus half the rest of the money received if your customer has a lodger (or boarder) living in their home is ignored [Reference 5e]. If there is more than one lodger, the same treatment is applied to the income from each lodger, so the first 20 a week plus half the rest of the money received from each lodger is ignored. The amount that is ignored is on top of any disregards from other types of income. If anyone else lives in your customer s home and pays them for their living costs and accommodation (for example, an adult son or daughter), these payments will not count as 26

27 income. However, there may be a deduction from any extra amount received for housing costs. (How do we work out housing costs?). Home income plans [Legislation 14] If your customer has released equity from their home to buy an annuity and is paying interest on the loan they took out to do this, part of the annuity income (equal to the amount of interest being paid) may be ignored. Earning disregards [Legislation 15] The amount of earnings disregarded depends on whether your customer: receives certain benefits is blind is a carer is a lone parent works part-time in certain special occupations The amount of earnings ignored in the Pension Credit calculation is on top of any disregards on other types of income. Normal disregards [Legislation 16] The first 5 of earnings from work is ignored in most cases. For couples, the first 10 of joint earnings is ignored. Higher disregards There is a higher earnings disregard of 20 for some people. For some couples, the first 20 of joint earnings is ignored. The 20 disregard applies when: 27

28 your customer is a lone parent (does not have a partner and is responsible for a child who lives with them) your customer or their partner get any of these benefits: o o o o o o o o o Armed Forces Independence payment Attendance Allowance Disability Living Allowance Personal Independence Payment long-term Incapacity Benefit(IB) Severe Disablement Allowance Mobility Supplement the disability or severe disability element of Working Tax Credit Employment and Support Allowance your customer or their partner are registered blind your customer gets the extra amount for caring responsibilities because they (or their partner) are a carer your customer or their partner have earnings from one of these occupations: o o o o part-time fire fighter member of the Territorial Army or the reserve forces lifeboat crew member or someone manning or launching a lifeboat auxiliary coastguard involved in coast rescue duties Special rules [Legislation 17] There are special rules for people who were getting 20 of their (or their partner s) earnings disregarded either when they were getting Income Support, income-based Jobseeker s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance in the eight weeks before they started to get Pension Credit or when they reached State Pension age. The 20 disregard will continue to apply as long as there are no gaps of more than eight weeks in either the employment or their entitlement to Pension Credit. The maximum amount that we can ignore from a single person s earnings is 20. The maximum amount that we can ignore for a couple if any of these rules apply to one or both of them, is also 20. [Legislation 18] Earnings from before an application [Legislation 19] 28

29 If your customer stopped work (whether employed or self-employed) before their Pension Credit started, any payments they get for this work (except royalty payments or Public Lending Rights) will be ignored completely. How we work out capital for Pension Credit Capital includes money held in any form cash, bank and building society accounts, Premium Bonds, investment trusts, shares, ISAs, etc. and from any source savings, inheritance, redundancy, lump-sum grants, ad hoc or lump sum equity release payments etc. It also includes the net market value of land and property. Calculations for couples [Legislation 20] If your customer has a partner, the capital held by both of them will usually be added together and treated in the same way as the capital held by a single person. See People living apart from their partner for situations where partners can be treated separately. Disregarded capital The value of some types of capital is disregarded (Capital disregards). Deemed income [Legislation 21] If the net value of your customer s capital is more than 10,000, they will be treated as if they have an income from it. This is called deemed income and will affect their Pension Credit calculations (Deemed income from capital). The actual interest or dividends from capital are not used to work out income. Notional capital [Legislation 22] 29

30 Notional capital is capital your customer doesn t actually have but is treated as having. We may treat your customer as having notional capital if they got rid of capital to get Pension Credit or more Pension Credit for example, if they knew they had too much money to get Pension Credit so gave some to a grandchild. We will not treat your customer as having notional capital if they used capital to repay or reduce a debt (for example, a mortgage) or to buy something which was reasonable in the circumstances (for example, replacing a car might be considered reasonable, buying a luxury car is probably not). Reduction over time If your customer is treated as having notional capital, the amount they are treated as having will be reduced over time. If your customer is getting some Pension Credit the reduction will be equal to the amount of additional Pension Credit they would have been entitled to had they not been treated as having this capital. If your customer is not entitled to any Pension Credit the reduction will be equal to the amount of Pension Credit and any additional Housing Benefit they would have been entitled to had they not been treated as having this capital. If they re-apply more than six months after being refused Pension Credit, the weekly amount of the reduction in their capital will be recalculated. Capital disregards When we calculate capital we ignore certain types of capital assets and lump-sum payments, either for a period of time or for good. The following paragraphs show examples of disregarded capital. Personal possessions Personal possessions, for example a car, furniture and fittings in the home, family belongings, are ignored. Houses and land If your customer owns the home they live in: 30

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